of the overall state of each NHL team’s system of pro
Hockey’s Future Mid-Season Organizational Rankings are an assessment of the
overall state of each NHL team’s system of prospects. An overall ranking is given, and strengths and weaknesses are
identified. The ranking is being posted
in installments every few days. Teams ranked 21-30 were posted here, and teams
ranked 11-20 are below, with previous rank in parentheses.
rankings were compiled by a committee of staff members using the prospect
criteria normally used by this site.
Since this is a mid-season ranking, players who were projected to appear
in 41 or more NHL games in 2003-04 during the production of this list were
excluded from the final draft of the rankings.
Some of the excluded players may still be listed as prospects on some of
the team pages, however, but moving them to “Graduated” status is a
project for another day.
information on individual prospects for each of the NHL teams, follow the link
to the various team, league, or country pages here at Hockey’s Future.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks (9)
Strengths: Even though the Ducks have
recently promoted high-end talent such as Stanislav Chistov, Joffrey Lupul and
Alexi Smirnov to the NHL, their organization is still pretty well stocked. They
are set in goal with a potential franchise type netminder in Ilya
Bryzgalov. The forward lines have a good combination of speed, power and
scoring threats. They are also starting to address the lack of size up front
with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Shane Hynes. Tim Brent joined Getzlaf as members of Team
Canada at the recent WJC.
Weaknesses: After Mark Popovic, the defensive
depth is a little weak. The Ducks have some interesting projects on the
blueline in Juha Alen and Brandon Rogers, but no sure bets.
Top Prospects: (C) Ryan
Getzlaf, (F) Corey Perry, (D) Mark Popovic, (F) Chris Kunitz, (C) Tim Brent,
(G) Ilya Bryzgalov.
12. Boston Bruins
Strengths: Boston is
another team with a strong goaltending prospect in Hannu Toivonen, who has the
luxury of not being required immediately.
The Bruins’ main strength is their future defensive corps led by Mark
Stuart and Shaone Morrisonn. Lars
Jonsson, Milan Jurnica and Andrew Alberts further round out the backend. Although none of them may ever be Norris
Trophy winners, all will be good NHLers and they are a well-rounded group. Boston also has a few NHL capable forwards
in Martin Samuelsson, Andy Hilbert and Sergei Zinovjev.
Weaknesses: None of
Boston’s forwards seem to have what it takes to be a true top line talent in
the NHL. Zinovjev may, but he still has not been to Boston’s training camp
despite being drafted in 2000 and Samuelsson seems most likely to be a third
liner and Hilbert an average second liner.
Top Prospects: (G) Hannu
Toivonen, (D) Mark Stuart, (D) Shaone Morrisonn, (D) Lars Jonsson, (D) Milan
Jurnica, (F) Andy Hilbert, (F) Sergei Zinovjev, (D) Andrew Alberts, (F) Martin
Samuelsson and (G) Matti Kaltiainen.
13. Los Angeles
Strengths: The Kings have a deep system with
a formidable group of blueliners leading the way. They are well balanced
between puck movers such as Tim Gleason and Denis Grebeshkov and the big,
punishing stay at home types like Aaron Rome and Richard Petiot. Up front, they
may not have any superstars, but they do have a number of prospects that should
play in the NHL. The Kings have been willing to draft and develop players that
are considered projects and have had some success. Monstrous center Brian Boyle is a good example of this as is playmaker Konstantin
Pushkarev. Others such as Jeff Tambellini, Petr Kanko and Brady Murray are less
risky and should be solid, yet unspectacular NHLers.
Weaknesses: The Kings are lacking a blue chip
goaltender. Ryan Munce is a solid prospect and collegian netminders Matt Zaba
and Nathan Marsters flash talent, but both are long-term projects. The Kings
are also lacking a sure fire top six forward. They have several prospects with
the potential to play on the top two lines, but that is the downside to their
history of drafting projects.
Top Prospects: (D) Denis
Grebeshkov, (D) Tim Gleason, (D) Richard Petiot, (C) Brian Boyle, (F) Jeff
Tambellini, (F) Petr Kanko, (C) Jared Aulin.
Nashville Predators (8)
Predators possess very impressive talent and depth on the blueline as Ryan
Suter, Kirill Safronov and Kevin Klein could all end up being top 4 blueliners
in the NHL. Meanwhile, forwards Scottie Upshall and Brandon Segal could be solid
two-way wingers on the right side and might fit right in with Nashville’s team.
Timofei Shishkanov and Konstantin Glazachev are the only forward prospects who
look purely offensive. In net, Brian Finley has rebounded nicely from injuries
and could be a stud. Teemu Lassila provides goaltending depth.
isn’t a lot of offensive potential up front for Nashville. Actually, it could
be argued that as a whole, Nashville really doesn’t have a prospect with the
potential to be a game-breaker. There is also a lack of left wings in the
organization and despite the depth on the blueline, it’s hard to say how many
can make the NHL jump after the top 3. Prospects at center are missing size,
Prospects: (F) Scottie Upshall, (D) Ryan Suter, (F) Timofei
Shishkanov, (D) Kirill Safaronov, (G) Brian Finley, (D) Kevin Klein, (F)
Brandon Segal, (F) Darren Haydar.
Detroit Red Wings (20)
rarely having top selections, the Red Wings have amassed a strong stable of
prospects at every position by continuously seeming to find gems in late
rounds. Most notably are Igor Grigorenko and Jiri Hudler, both of whom possess
a multitude of offensive skills. Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann add more
forward scoring depth to the Wings future. The blueline features Niklas
Kronwall, a standout who was a recent call up for Detroit. Goaltending is
another area where Detroit shines. Stefan Liv, James Howard, Drew MacIntyre and
Joey MacDonald provide plenty of depth.
of their lack of top picks and need to find late round gems, Detroit has quite
a few weak spots. After Kronwall, the defensive prospect depth is suspect and
questionable. The organization could really benefit to develop a hard-nosed
rearguard. Also, among the forwards, despite the skill, there is a lack of size
and strength so a power forward is needed.
Prospects: (F)Igor Grigorenko, (C) Jiri Hudler, (D) Niklas Kronwall,
(G) Stefan Liv, (C) Tomas Kopecky, (F) Tomas Fleischmann.
16. Dallas Stars (27)
Strengths: Dallas has great goaltending
depth with three masked men, Jason Bacashihua, Dan Ellis and Tobias Stephan,
talented enough to make the NHL. It seems that the Stars realized they struck
gold with Jere Lehtinen and filled their prospect cupboard with similar players
because they possess a deep group of two-way European forwards. Defensively the Stars have two highly
skilled, undersized prospects in Trevor Daley and Martin Vagner.
Weaknesses: The Stars are missing the
powerful, physical specimens in the system. They do have collegian defensemen
Matt Nickerson and Drew Bagnall who have size and mean steaks, but neither is
expected to make an impact for another few years. Up front, the Stars lack size
and strength. They do not have a legitimate power forward or a top-flight
superstar candidate anywhere in their system.
Top Prospects: (G) Jason Bacashihua, (G) Tobias
Stephan, (D) Trevor Daley, (D) Martin Vagner, (F) Annti Miettinen, (F) Jussi
Jokinen, (F) Loui Eriksson, (F) Mathias Tjarnqvist, (F) Vojtech Polak.
Chicago Blackhawks (1)
has plenty of depth between the pipes, starting with Craig Andersson and
Michael Leighton and continuing on with Corey Crawford. They also possess a
deep blueline corps led by Brent Seabrook, Anton Babchuk, Michal Barinka and as
many as 3 others. Up front, they still possess Mikhail Yakoubov, Igor Radulov
and Pavel Vorobiev.
year’s top organization has seen quite a few graduated prospects move up. Their
goaltenders all seem to possess the terrible trait of letting in a bad goal a
game and none of them look like they will be top NHL starting netminders. There
is also a lack of physical scoring wingers and two-way forwards.
Prospects: (D) Brent Seabrook, (F) Igor Radulov, (F) Pavel Vorobiev,
(F) Anton Babchuk, (C) Mikhail Yakoubov, (G) Michael Leighton, (G) Craig
Andersson, (D) Michal Barinka.
18. Vancouver Canucks (15)
Strengths: Aside from their strong goaltending duo consisting of Alex Auld and
Lukas Mensator, the biggest strength for the Vancouver Canucks is their depth
up front, most noticeably down the middle.
Boasting prospects such as Brandon Reid and RJ Umberger, Vancouver has a
nice mix of power and finesse complimented by Ryan Kesler and Ilya Krikunov.
Weaknesses: Although their
blueline is highlighted by one of the better prospects in Kirill Koltsov, the
defensive core in Vancouver is rather weak. In fact, outside of Koltsov the
defense cannot guarantee another prospect making the Canucks. Tomas Mojzis
shows good offensive instincts with the puck, but otherwise isn’t expected to
make a significant impact on the club.
Top Prospects: (C) RJ
Umberger, (D) Kirill Koltsov, (C) Ryan Kesler, (G) Alex Auld, (G) Lukas
Mensator, (F) Ilya Krikunov, (C) Brandon Reid.
19. Calgary Flames (11)
can brag about having arguably the best pure hitting prospect in Dion Phaneuf.
Phaneuf isn’t the only solid stay at home defender in the organization, a role
that Calgary appears to be deep at when including Tim Ramholt as well. Between
the pipes, Russian goaltender Andrei Medvedev and CHL graduate Brent Krahn make
a formidable duo for the Flames in the future.
exceptions made for 2002 first round selection Eric Nystrom and Andrei
Taratukhin, the Flames lack any potential game breakers, natural scorers and
pure skill players among their forward core. Both on forward and defense, the
Calgary Flames may have trouble providing offense.
Top Prospects: (D) Dion
Phaneuf, (F) Eric Nystrom, (D) Tim Ramholt, (G) Andrei Medvedev, (G) Brent
Krahn, (C) Andrei Taratukhin.
20. Minnesota Wild (23)
Strengths: Up front,
and especially down the middle, the Minnesota Wild are fairly strong. With a
pair of prospects at center such as Mikko Koivu and Patrick O’Sullivan,
Minnesota fans certainly have something to look forward to. Wild coach Jacques
Lemaire likes to implement his favorite defensive system, and he should be
pleased with the amount of potential checkers coming up through the ranks. Minnesota is at least deep in goal, with
four goaltending prospects.
prospect depth in terms of blueliners is an issue that stands out like a sore
thumb. With only about two defensemen with legitimate shots at making the
National Hockey League, defense should be an issue the club will look to
address at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Top Prospects: (C)
Patrick O’Sullivan, (G) Josh Harding, (C) Mikko Koivu, (F) Matt Foy, (F) Kyle